By Alex Comstock
Its been said that all good things must come to an end. But what you don't always get to choose is how that ending plays out. When it comes to deer hunting, the final chapter of a hunt for a specific buck can either be great if you end up harvesting him, or it can be a tough pill to swallow if you don't. Unfortunatley for me, I wasn't able to write the final chapter with Kobe.
I've written and thought more about this buck I named Kobe more than any other deer in my lifetime. I was downright obsessed. The amount of hours I spent staring at maps and trail camera pictures trying to pinpoint how to send an arrow though him was probably unhealthy. This was a buck I had internally decided would be the only buck I'd shoot in North Dakota this season. I had developed an affinity for him, and my goal oriented personality meant I would hunt him until I finally got him, or until he was no longer alive. Sadly, the latter came to be true sooner than I wished.
Friday, November 10th: I was back in North Dakota this past weekend, once again in full pursuit of Kobe. On the morning of the 10th, I sat in bitterly cold temperatures on the edge of a doe bedding area, and only saw does. I got down mid morning, checked a trail cam, and headed back to the truck to warm up, and check the card. After going through the SD card, I had pictures of Kobe in daylight a week prior, and knew I needed to get back in the stand.
After getting all settled in for the afternoon hunt, it was about 1:00pm. Rifle season had opened at noon, so I was now wearing my orange, but had my bow in hand. The afternoon was pretty much non-stop deer movement, and I ended up seeing 8 bucks and a handful of does. I considered the day an overall success, and while walking out of the timber, I had already started plotting my move for the following morning.
5:44 PM: I was just getting back to the truck when my phone buzzed. I looked down to see a text from a buddy who lives nearby where I hunt. I instantly knew. For whatever reason, my stomach dropped. I opened the text to a photo and a caption of "he's dead". I took one glance at the picture and instantly recognized Kobe. In that moment, I could have shed a tear. I was pretty emotional. I just sat in my truck for a few minutes and reflected. I thought about all of the hours spent hanging stands, running trail cameras, checking SD cards, scouting, shed hunting, glassing, all in hopes of harvesting THAT buck. And all of a sudden it was over. Done. Finished. Just like that...
The next day, I was able to find out who shot Kobe. The guy had a son who was about my age, and I was able to find him on Facebook and send him a message. Ultimately, they invited me over to see the buck the next day and I couldn't wait to see him in person.
Sunday, November 12th: Now that Kobe was no longer an option, Sunday morning I headed out to a new set I had hung the previous evening. I ended up having one of the best rut hunts of my life, seeing 10 bucks in only three hours, including a giant. At about 11:00am, I got down from my stand, and headed over to see Kobe.
After meeting the guy who harvested Kobe and his family, I was thankful. Not only was I thankful they let me hold Kobe's rack, welcomed me into their home, and even brought me to where they shot him, but I was thankful to have had an opportunity to hunt a deer like that. For as much as it hurt me, I was truly happy for Brent to have harvested him. He was a great guy, and I'm happy that Kobe was harvested in a clean, quick, and ethical way. I made some new friends, and I'm happy that it turned out in a positive way. I could have easily let this keep me down all year, and could have let it ruin my season.
At the end of the day, Kobe taught me a lot. He taught me lessons about mature bucks that I'll take with me forever, and I'm confident that buck has made me a better deer hunter. Some things happen in this world that we simply don't have control over. What can define you is how you react to those things, and control what you can. For me, I didn't want this to turn into a major negative part of the season. Yeah, right away it sucked. I sulked and was sad for a little while, but then had to get over it. Now, I'll be turning my attention to a number of other mature bucks, and hopefully before it's all said and done, I can take a lesson Kobe taught me to put a different buck down.